dumb ghost speak

That night you found me
propped sideways in the gutter
sprawled out tongue dumb struck
and broken throat
looking for falling and dying stars,
I had split myself open and spilled all over the feet of
better men than me,
on the boots of
broken down, front yard, spare part men
who had held their earnest shoulders to spinning wheels for years,
who had ground themselves down to their bones and were
leaking the inside hollow out,
who I could never understand.

That night before my legs gave out
I drunk stuttered back to the scar of the river and stood knee deep in the dry
hoping that one of those fire white stars
would shoot through my chest and spray me red and wet across the sand.

I opened up my chest
and carefully removed each rib,
each one a marvel of sleek restraint.

The ghosts in my lungs looked out and sniffed the air but said that they weren’t ready.
I danced a rain dance to call down the flood to wash them out
but the stars just buzzed in reply.

That dry river was full of the dull jawbones
of beasts and men who had forgotten their speech.

It felt like the worst kind of home.

I saw the light double clutching toward me that night
and I stood dumb tongued and blind,
waiting to explode
all over its steel.

Under the weight of all that light
I would have made myself an elegant crash and pop as I hit
but there was nothing behind the bright.

I was the worst kind of white in that collar,
all greased keys and spin,
all neat columns and company man grin,
I hid knives in words and hid words in my spine,
I shotgunned out the best parts of my brain daily.

I spent nights beneath that sky moving the ghosts around inside me,
moving them from room to room to keep them busy and quiet.

I wore earplugs for noisy ventricles,
I stopped up veins with process,
I swapped out my typewriter spine ,
and my bear trap jawbone kept snapping on the legs of sparrows that would never find
a place to land.

Men would come to me with pockets stuffed with ammunition
and perfectly good reason to use it;
I was all blanks and safety catches.

I think if I’d stayed I’d have become another quiet failure,
or a dangling incomplete.

But you came and dragged me back from that gutter church of the dumb,
took off my shoes and hosed me off,
taught me not to jump but to swan dive.

The best loves are the ones that keep us alive.

And then in time you went and did that thing where you grew god inside you,
a lo-fi underwater god all heart beat and thumb suck
and all those dumb ghosts inside my lungs stopped their nervous sniffing
and were content just to watch the reaching hands inside you
pressing out against your skin.

I think now those years when they were quiet
was just a breathing in.
They have found their tongues again.
They speak rivers now.
They speak well.
They are grateful to you
and to the hands that grew inside you.
They are grateful.

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